Dispatches

Dog Show Dancing

C. E. COUGHLAN

Women and dogs shimmy and shake at the Pet Expo

The aisles at the Pet Expo
in the Vancouver Convention Centre were lined with natural pet remedies, dog
toys, hamster exercise equipment, bird sanctuaries filled with macaws, budgies
and cockatoos, a rabbit rescue centre and a booth with hairless cats for sale.
The Canine Freestyle Dancing show was setting up in the centre ring, where
fifteen women were skipping around in circles, each with a dog by her side;
they were whistling and giving hand signals, and a few of them held treats in
the air to tempt their dogs to jump. At two o’clock the lights went down and a
spotlight followed a woman in a velvet cape as she walked up to the microphone.
“Practice is over,” she said. “Vicki and her Siberian husky, Spirit, will be
the first act today. They’ve been dancing together for three years.” Vicki and
Spirit stepped into the ring and Vicki lifted her hand and dropped her head,
and Spirit lay down by her side. The first few bars of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet
Caroline” blasted through the speakers and Vicki waved her hand and she and
Spirit began to skip and sway across the floor. Vicki held Spirit’s front paws
for a few turns and then Spirit twirled around her. A bald man in the back row
laughed hysterically and a woman swivelled around in her seat and frowned and
shook her head.

The next performer, Coco, a six-year-old
Belgian shepherd, stood on his back legs and hopped alongside a woman wearing white go-go boots who
jiggled her hips in time to “YMCA.” Coco weaved between her legs, rolled across her feet, lay on his back
and kicked his legs in the air. The woman’s brow was furrowed and sweat ran
down her face. Coco bounded in front of her, then backed through her legs and
sneezed twice. The judges looked at each other and one of them wrote something
down. A tall woman shimmied across the floor with Toby, a
one-and-a-half-year-old border collie, and she waved a conductor stick and Toby
jumped up and danced on his hind legs, trotted across the ring, picked up a
rose in his teeth, brought it back and dropped it on a red pillow at her feet.
Then he rolled over, crawled on his belly across the floor and seemed to lose
interest.
He leapt up and ran after a Chinese crested who was chasing a
ball thrown by a woman dressed in a sweater with a Yorkshire terrier on the
front. A big blond woman danced a jig with a golden retriever named Holly to an
Ashley MacIsaac fiddle tune; Holly wagged her tail and leapt over the big blond
woman’s outstretched leg and the music crackled and skipped ahead; they had to
speed up to stay with the beat and they were finished long before the song had
ended.

In the last act, five women dressed in cowboy
hats and red silk blouses line-danced with a Pomeranian, a Portuguese waterdog,
a German shepherd, a golden retriever and an Irish terrier, all wearing
matching red scarves, to Shania Twain’s “No One Needs to Know.”

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C. E. COUGHLAN

C.E. Coughlan’s work has been published in Geist, Grain and the anthology Emerge. The Wigmaker, her collection of short stories was published in 2007 by Smart Cookie Publishing. Her piece, "Once," was a runner-up in the 1st Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.


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